Can we have it all? A Humanist Issue – Not a Gender Issue!


‘So I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented at all levels of the work force. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.’

I would go as far to say that Anne Marie Slaughter has inspired me through her TEDtalk just as much as Sheryl Sandberg in her [EPIC] speech on ‘Why We Have So Few Women Leaders’. Not only does Slaughter address the issues facing work-life balance & gender inequality, but she rightly acknowledges the importance of the role of family and how work-policy & societal norms have rendered the home as second-rate to the work place. Here are a few random thoughts I had whilst listening:

Coming from an Indian-background [full of cultural controversies], I find the dynamics of home decision-making extremely interesting. Anne Marie claims that in most cultural norms, Men are considered the primary breadwinners and Women, the caregivers. Ironically, in the same cultures, and more-so in developing countries, patriarchal family dynamics allow Men to be at the helm of decision making in the home. [I haven’t referenced this, however i’m sure you wouldn’t disagree!] This means that, although women are the primary care-givers, Men are in charge of family expenditure and therefore decisions on health, education and the futures of their children. Something doesn’t quite add up!

I also love the fact that Anne Marie recognises the pressures on Men to be the breadwinners and the increasing ability of Women to choose their positions at home and at work. It’s like the reverse of Caitlin Moran’s checklist on inequality & sexism, number one of which is, ‘Are the men worrying about this?’. Instead, Women are increasingly being championed when they succeed in either realms of family or work, whilst Men are reduced to one option of what it means to be a Man.

Lastly, I believe the over-arching issue at play is the responsibility of businesses in the wider society and as the creators of work-culture. Are businesses accountable to their employees and therefore the wider society? Or are they only answerable to their shareholders? As a believer in corporate responsibility and social mobility, I think that businesses have a responsibility to ALL of these agents, equally. As employers of individuals that strive to balance their lives, businesses should champion the flexible strategies that allow both Men and Women to excel together in both work and home. At the same time, these qualities should be valued by shareholders. This is important for the business, for employees and for future generations.

As a young women who is extremely far from making these decisions, I am already thinking about the issues that may effect myself and my future family/career. It’s more scary that I am considering these issues than the fact that these issues exist in the first place! I believe this is a sure sign that the paradigm we currently live in needs to shift away from the militant work-culture and towards a healthier [and evidently more successful] flexible norm.

Over & Out.

Advertisements

Lisa Kudrow in epic speech on sexism in politics [as featured in Scandal, USA]

This speech really hits home as it emphasises the situations that many women are put in on a daily basis and may not have the same confidence to stand up to their counterparts [male or female] that provoke gender discrimination.

It reminded me of expectations; subsequently a prominent, albeit random, memory of an expectation I was expected to adhere to came to mind. I have been told multiple times by women and men who interview for jobs that your nails must be neatly painted as part of appropriate interview presentation.

This baffles me. Painting or not painting your nails has nothing to do with the ability for a woman to do a job. Men do not have this same requirement. Is this, as Lisa Kudrow said, in order to remind you that I’m a woman? A more appropriate requirement would be clean shoes or neatly cut nails – both which signify attention to detail and pride in presentation, not personal preference of colour or an assumption that womens’ presentation is correlated to their nail colour.

I admit this was an extremely random thought and memory to come from this video, but shows us how the most unusual experiences can be made more vividly clear when you least expect it.

Over & Out

No Journalism, Just Truth.

Hyeonseo Lee, a regular citizen of North Korea, shares her story of how she escaped the DPRK. Not only did she set up her life in South Korea, but she then went back and saved her family from starvation and possible death.

This little “TEDwhim” is not a response to the big news headlines, but was sparked by this single. mighty story of courage.

I am sharing this TEDtalk at a very tense and serious time of global politics. Hints of nuclear war from North Korea have shadowed the world and the US have responded firmly to these threats. As international citizens, it is hard to gather the truth about DPRK. We are bombarded with Journalism an dramatic reports about the militant regime, the destructive leadership and the decaying population. However, we must wonder how much of this is true and how much of this is over-exaggeration of Western Media. As a politics student, I have recently become highly cynical of reports such as BBC Panorama on DPRK from Monday. Surely this is all just Western propaganda, showing the worst elements of an enemy nation while concealing the positives?

Hyeonseo Lee has put this cynic in her place. The negatives are the Truth. The positives are but Delusions; delusions of indoctrinated Korean people. Listening to Hyeonseo’s story and raw emotion has really opened my eyes to the struggles of the DPRK.

It has made me rethink the simple privileges I have grown up with – A wage, a vote, a voice.

Over & Out.